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Letter to the Editor: Without more housing Calgary will lose the young talent that is vital to its future 

The upcoming public hearing for rezoning on Apr. 22 represents a critical decision point for our City and Calgary City Council. We have the chance to answer the question “Who is Calgary for?”

The voices of young people and students have been woefully under-represented in conversations about the future of housing in our city. The upcoming public hearing for rezoning on Apr. 22 is occurring during exam season, which may be an obstacle for students to participate in the already inequitable process of public engagement. Young people’s voices must be taken into account when deciding the policies that will dictate the direction of Calgary’s built form and decision-makers must take the challenges our generation is forced to navigate into consideration. Although many of us may not be homeowners, we are still Calgarians.

Students and young people across the city have been thrust into an untenable situation; many of us cannot fathom ever owning a house, let alone moving out of our childhood homes. And for some, the reality of our city’s current housing crisis has forced them into homelessness. Young people are denied agency over our housing choices and subsequently, the direction of our lives.  

While the proposed rezoning reforms are not the silver bullet which will solve the housing crisis, it is a crucial step in the path toward increasing the supply and diversity of housing types that Calgary so desperately needs. In a recent report from Calgary’s Drop-in Centre, they found that just a one per cent increase in the housing supply can result in a 10 to 30 per cent reduction in rent. By rezoning, Calgary can build up and not out to maximize its existing built environment instead of continuing down the path of rampant, expensive and unsustainable sprawl. The more that the city sprawls, the more that public services are stretched thin and the more that Calgarians must rely on a car for their daily needs. By allowing for density, the City is diversifying its housing choices that are also connected to schools, employment, amenities, and public transportation.

Much of Calgary’s appeal was once for its affordability, today a growing number of Calgarians are in precarious situations and are weighing the decision of whether or not to stay. The housing crisis has already taken a detrimental toll on the city, and every day Calgary loses the young talent that is vital to its future. Urban Calgary Students Association fully supports the proposed rezoning and we strongly urge city council to consider the future of young people in this city and vote in favour of rezoning. 

Calgarians cannot afford more hesitancy in reasonable action to address this crisis, even in the face of hostility and fear of change. Housing is a fundamental human right and should be treated as such. We hope that before voting, councillors consider what their decision says about “Who Calgary is for?’ We encourage students to join us in advocating for more housing by registering to speak at the public hearing that will commence on Apr. 22 and join the 100+ students who have signed our open letter to the council.

Hanna Crisostomo, fourth year Political Science and Urban Studies undergraduate student and an executive of the Urban Calgary Students Association (UrbanCSA) and Humberto Abrahan Arias, fifth year Urban Studies undergraduate student, an incoming Masters student at UBC’s School of Community and Regional Planning, and an executive of UrbanCSA.

Letters to the Editor published in the Gauntlet do not necessarily reflect the views of the Gauntlet editorial board. The Gauntlet retains the right to edit submissions for brevity and clarity.

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